Story: Australia and New Zealand

Ngāti Poihakena

Poihakena is the Māori word for Sydney. As Benjamin Pitman and Rangipumamao Hira explain in this clip, Māori have been coming across the Tasman to settle in Sydney since the end of the 18th century. In the last 40 years their numbers have grown and when this programme was made in 2009 there were over 120,000 Māori living there. It was their hope to build a marae so that Māori culture could flourish in their new home.


Rangipumamao Hira has lived here for 40 years, while Dr Benjamin Pitman has lived here for 30 years.

Rangipumamao Hira: Many of our young have been born here.

According to both of them the time has come to establish an ancestral meeting house. There are more than 126,000 Māori who have settled here.

Dr Benjamin Pitman: The key we think is to have a focal point which reflects what they have in common as Māori, rather than what divides them.

According to this pair, it is more than just job-hunting that ties Māori to this land.

Dr Benjamin Pitman: Our people have been coming here since the 1790s, so there's been this long association with Poihakena [Sydney] and with Ngā iwi Moemoea [aboriginal peoples].

Rangipumamao Hira: From the time that we have been living here it is as guests.

Perhaps within the Anzac bridge they will find inspiration and the resolve to push towards the erection of a marae here. The cost of this dream is $3 million.

Dr Benjamin Pitman: Currently we have about $200,000 in the bank.

The dream is about to come to fruition. The seed has been planted to erect a marae which will serve as a focal point allow the expression of ihi, wehi, and wairua of those iwi, whānau, hapū which have long lived under the banner of Ngāti Poihakena in Australia. While the local councils support this idea, it is still up to those living here to demonstrate the strength required to further this proposition.

Dr Benjamin Pitman: We are really on our own here and therefore, the importance of doing this as a Māori community together.

Rangipumamao Hira: I am hopeful that the council will show us some sympathy and assist us in this aim of an ancestral meeting house there. Wow.

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How to cite this page:

Philippa Mein Smith, 'Australia and New Zealand - Common culture', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 14 June 2024)

Story by Philippa Mein Smith, published 20 Jun 2012